The Biological Approach to Understanding Human Emotion


Emotion sensation is a stage of neurobiological functioning necessary for developing feelings and connections with consciousness. Feelings are necessary for enhancing cognition and the proper functioning of all mental functions. According to the biological standpoint, biological systems and their roles determine humans’ conduct and thinking (Capdevila et al., 2015a). These activities could be performed by synapses, brain regions, receptors, chromosomes, or any other structure found in a living organism. Biological researchers have long been interested in quantifying physiological, hormonal, or genetic characteristics to establish relationships between them and mental or behavioral factors. The biological perspective holds that conduct results from an individual’s biological components. It is the only psychological paradigm that studies ideas, sensations, and actions from a natural and physical perspective (Capdevila et al., 2015a). Therefore, this paper aims to critically analyze the biological approach to understanding peoples’ feelings and conclude from the researchers’ viewpoint on the interaction between biology and individuals’ emotions.

The Biological Approach to Understanding Human Emotion

Various studies have demonstrated the relationship between biology and people’s emotional development. Capdevila et al. (2015b) established a relationship between autobiographical memory and empathetic emotions among humans and found that such experiences may be especially critical in establishing the foundation for empathic reactions to others. An autobiographical recall is a collection of memories regarding one’s observations, including places, occurrences, incidents, and people from one’s life. Empathy is necessary for various reasons; for one thing, it serves as the foundation for a variety of other critical psychological talents and actions. It contains mental and affective components; cognitively, it entails the capacity to make rational judgments about what others may be encountering in a given scenario, a technique commonly referred to as comprehension taking (Capdevila et al., 2015b). Emotionally it entails the capacity to perceive what others would feel in a circumstance, such as humiliation, and to endure their misery indirectly. Understanding enables people to think morally about what is fair and unfair and choose when and why to participate in prosocial activities such as assisting.

More generically, it enables people to predict and respond appropriately to the actions of other individuals in ordinary settings. For example, when a speaker illustrates a terrible event, this may trigger recollections of a similar event encountered by the audience, establishing commonality and fostering a deeper understanding of their cognitive processes (Capdevila et al., 2015b). Compassion is the mental phenomenon by which people may place themselves in the shoes of another, for instance, by envisioning how others might feel and think in a given scenario. For instance, a person delivering horrific news to another needs to frequently use cognitive and emotional sensitivity to function socially, effectively, and acceptably (Capdevila et al., 2015b). As this example demonstrates, empathy is perhaps crucial to what it means to be a fully formed human being, a concept exemplified by an individual’s attitude toward others who lack the ability.

Numerous psychological factors also contribute to the emotional impact of behaviors, such as listening to music. These systems give light on why people are moved by music (Capdevila et al., 2015a). For instance, people may become depressed after hearing someone sing a depressing song because, as the concept of emotional diffusion reveals, individuals’ catch’ the emotional states of others around them (Capdevila et al., 2015a). Or, as a study on conditioning demonstrates, humans may become enthusiastic while attending to their favorite sports team chant because stimuli can become linked with specific emotions, resulting in beneficial or harmful sensations associated with the stimuli.

Individuals can effortlessly identify emotion in songs, and the sensations they experience are typically the same as those seen by others. As a result, this implies that different sequences of tones have become connected with specific emotions (Capdevila et al., 2015a). Individuals’ impressions are distinct from the feelings elicited by music. Humans may experience a song as gloomy, but this does not necessarily imply that the music causes them to feel unhappy (Capdevila et al., 2015a). Numerous lines of research demonstrate that people’s emotional reactions to music are influenced by a variety of psychosocial, psychological, and biological systems. Capdevila et al. (2015a) insinuate that reflecting on one’s musical involvement can help one better understand their conduct and the function song plays in their lifestyle. For instance, one might stream music in the early morning as they prepare for the day, throughout their morning and afternoon commutes, and while exercising.

Observing others experience pain, such as slashing their fingers with a knife, activates specific neural reactions. Surprisingly, it has been shown to stimulate brain networks believed to be associated with emotional distress interpretation (Capdevila et al., 2015b). For example, Capdevila et al. (2015b) discovered that viewing traumatic circumstances triggered the posterior cingulate cortex (ACC), a brain region linked with the interpretation of uncomfortable experiences of mental or physical pain. Additionally, they discovered a high correlation between individuals’ self-reported pain levels as reflected in specific images of their wrists and ankles and the intensity of activity of their ACC regions. The more distressing a person assesses a photograph, the more activated this neocortex. There are other conflicting theories for this pattern of brain activation. However, Capdevila et al.’s (2015b) observations provide an intriguing perspective into the neural importance of distress. They suggest a biological predisposition between observing others’ sorrow and people themselves.

Finally, multiple studies have established that individuals’ moral comprehension, consciousness, and conduct are exceptional. Capdevila et al. (2015a) elucidated the function of emotional states in a person’s moral sense and the mechanisms by which they are reproduced in the brain. They did so by evaluating individuals who had experienced brain injury to the ventromedial prefrontal cortex, located immediately beneath and above the tip of the nose (Capdevila et al., 2015a). Following this injury, patients lost their ability to perceive emotions; even the happiest or awful sights elicited no response.

They exhibited no intelligence deficiencies, but when it came to making choices regarding their lives, work, and acquaintances, they either made exceedingly poor choices or none. One of the ventromedial prefrontal cortex’s roles is to reconcile conscious reasoning and emotions (Capdevila et al., 2015a). For these clients, the only way to choose was to weigh each alternative’s possible advantages and disadvantages without regard for the emotional component that leads to this procedure in healthy persons (Capdevila et al., 2015a). Capdevila et al. (2015a) detailed how these individuals’ lives quickly fell apart. When the transgression is predicated on a prohibited scenario, such as pedophilia, intercourse with a dead chicken, or devouring a pet, moral judgments are frequently an after-the-fact attempt to explain an already-made judgment. Capdevila et al.’s (2015a) research contributes to the neural underpinnings of cognitive reasoning and how people respond to particular emotional events. Therefore, the brain assumes a critical function in processing emotions among individuals without it damaged; it becomes challenging for such individuals to perceive what happens in their immediate environment.


In conclusion, an emotional sense is a stage of neurobiological development required to form feelings and associations with awareness. Feelings are required to enhance intellect and the proper operation of all mental activities. The amygdala is in charge of processing powerful emotions such as fear, pleasure, and rage. Additionally, it may convey impulses to the cerebral cortex, which is responsible for conscious thought. Signs delivered from the thalamus to the autonomic nervous system and skeletal muscles regulate physical reactions. Capdevila et al. (2015b) identified a link between autobiographical memory and empathetic feelings in humans and discovered that such experiences might be significant in laying the groundwork for empathic responses to others. For example, individuals may become unhappy after hearing depressing music because, as the notion of emotional dispersion demonstrates, humans’ catch’ the psychological states of those around them.


Capdevila, R., Dixon, J. & Briggs, G. (2015a). Investigating psychology 2 – From biological to developmental. The Open University.

Capdevila, R., Dixon, J. & Briggs, G. (2015b). Investigating psychology 2 – From social to cognitive. The Open University.

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PsychologyWriting. 2023. "The Biological Approach to Understanding Human Emotion." April 18, 2023.

1. PsychologyWriting. "The Biological Approach to Understanding Human Emotion." April 18, 2023.


PsychologyWriting. "The Biological Approach to Understanding Human Emotion." April 18, 2023.